Community Design Team

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Too often, communities don’t get the help they need. Small towns across the country try to keep their workers in jobs, raise healthy kids, and make today’s lot better than yesterday’s.

But West Virginia’s more than 1,000 towns don’t stand alone. They have the Community Design Team, an outreach of West Virginia University. When their own resources are scarce and they need people who believe in them and fresh ideas, they call this group of professors and students who use their skills to solve real problems. With their help, these residents can make their towns better than before.

Montgomery

Montgomery, one of the more recent places the CDT visited, is a river town not far from West Virginia’s capital of Charleston. In the fall of 2010, professors and students looked around the town. WVU sent its best in public administration, landscape architecture, engineering, entrepreneurship and recreation, parks and tourism.

They catalogued the town’s strengths and challenges and spent time talking to community leaders and activists. They returned to Morgantown to assemble suggestions to promote economic development, tourism and beautification in Montgomery.

They also left a mural that combines the icons of the town’s heritage with plans for the future.

Ronceverte

After the Community Design Team compiles plans for towns, community leaders and residents decide what they’d like to change. In Ronceverte, W.Va.—a town outside of Lewisburg whose name is French for Greenbrier—community activists decided to do nearly everything in the plan.

Nearly 10 years after the CDT visit, there is a different feel in Ronceverte. Historic buildings that had sat empty are now reviving and serve as homes to new businesses. The kids in town have a public skate park. Millions of dollars in grants have come in through the town’s new Main Street program and Ronceverte Development Corporation.

Town

Point Marion

Founded: Mid-18th Century
Population: 1333
Visited by CDT: April 2006

Town

Terra Alta

Founded: 1853
Population: 1,456
Visited by CDT: September 4-6, 2003

Town

Sistersville

Founded: 1839
Population: 1,588
Visited by CDT: November 8-10, 2001

Town

West Union

Founded: 1881
Population: 806
Visited by CDT: May 18-20, 2000

Town

Grafton

Founded: 1856
Population: 5,489
Visited by CDT: February 21, 1998

Town

Petersburg

Founded: 1910
Population: 2,423
Visited by CDT: October 21-23, 1999

Town

Berkeley Springs

Founded: 1776
Population: 663
Visited by CDT: 2006

Town

Shepherdstown

Founded: 1762
Population: 1,208
Visited by CDT: May 2004

Town

Davis

Founded: 1884
Population: 624
Visited by CDT: October 16, 1998

Town

Elkins

Founded: 1890
Population: 7,032
Visited by CDT: May 16-19, 2002

Town

Belington

Founded: 1769
Population: 1,788
Visited by CDT: October 2007

Town

Philippi

Founded: 1843
Population: 2,870
Visited by CDT: June 2009

Town

Lost Creek

Population: 501
Visited by CDT: May 8-10, 1997

Town

Weston

Founded: 1818
Population: 4,317
Visited by CDT: November 8, 1997

Town

Glenville

Founded: 1845
Population: 1,544
Visited by CDT: March 2009

Town

Grantsville

Founded: 1865
Population: 565
Visited by CDT: August 17-19, 2000

Town

Elizabeth

Founded: 1796
Population: 994
Visited by CDT: March 2004

Town

Ripley

Founded: 1830
Population: 3,263
Visited by CDT: April 2003

Town

Clay

Founded: 1858
Population: 593
Visited by CDT: April 26-28, 2007

Town

Webster Springs

Founded: 1860
Population: 808
Visited by CDT: April 24-26, 2003

Town

Summersville

Founded: 1824
Population: 3,294
Visited by CDT: February 1-3, 2001

Town

Richwood

Founded: 1901
Population: 2,477
Visited by CDT: September 30-October 2, 1999

Town

Marlinton

Founded: 1755
Population: 1,204
Visited by CDT: April 2004

Town

Cabin Creek

Population: 1,297
Visited by CDT: March 23-25, 2000

Town

Madison-Danville

Founded: 1911
Population: 550
Visited by CDT: November 30-December 2, 2000

Town

Logan

Founded: 1824
Population: 1,630
Visited by CDT: May 7-9, 1998

Town

Matewan

Founded: 1895
Population: 498
Visited by CDT: April 14-16, 2005

Town

Mullens

Founded: 1912
Population: 1,769
Visited by CDT: 2003

Town

Elkhorn Creek

Visited by CDT: 2003

Town

Hinton

Founded: 1873
Population: 2,880
Visited by CDT: August 19-21, 1999

Town

Union

Founded: 1774
Population: 548
Visited by CDT: June 2006

Town

Rainelle

Founded: 1906
Population: 1,545
Visited by CDT: April 2010

Town

Mount Hope

Founded: 1872
Population: 1,487
Visited by CDT: October 5-8, 2006

Town

Fayetteville

Founded: 1837
Population: 2,754
Visited by CDT: March 15-17, 2007

County

Pocahontas

Founded: 1821
Population: 9,131
Visited by CDT: September 11-14, 1997

County

Webster

Founded: 1860
Population: 9,719
Visited by CDT: November 2003

County

Nicholas

Founded: 1818
Population: 26,562
Visited by CDT: November 2003